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What's It Like Now

Written by alanah in April 2002 and updated by Derek in Oct 2002

We moved to the commune site in mid-February 2002 after Derek had already spent about 5 months opening up the jungle with a machete and axe, planting fruit trees and other plants and preparing our primitive living area. So far we have planted about 30 species of fruit trees, many other useful perenials and a vegetable garden.

We pack in most of our food and all of our fruit on our backs. Derek carries almost all of it since Aedrin is not yet able to climb up the steep hill and I carry him. One or two times a week we walk to the valley (about 1 hour away) where several families live and there we pick oranges and bananas and get other foods. We use a homemade cart or rikshaw to transport our things along the dirt track.

We are sleeping in a large tent under tarps, nestled into an area sheltered by an overhanging limestone escarpment. A few steps away is the kitchen, with its stone and mud stove, a fair amount of counter space and running water. It is sheltered partly by the escarpment and partly by a temporary zinc roof. A little further along one finds food storage, clothes hanging on hangers, a little cave cubby-hole, an old dresser and the dining room table with its heavy, rough-hewn benches. All of these are protected from rain by the overhanging escarpment.

Derek's days are spent opening up more jungle (with Aedrin's help and mine occasionally), planting food, improving the paths, and doing a little construction work. I do most of the cooking over an open fire in the early morning and wash our clothing by hand with solar hot water which runs through a black pipe from a spring about 2000 feet from the kitchen. We both work in the garden and tend our nursery trees. On Monday mornings we work on improving our foot paths.

We have no problems with mosquitoes, seeing maybe one or two each day, but we do have a lot of what locals call "bottle-assed flies." I call them "eye-flies" because they often fly back and forth in front of one's eyes.

In some seasons of the year one may get ticks by walking in tall brush or grass where people have taken their horses or cows. We would advise when passing through the Mennonite community where these animals abound to not brush up against the tall grass at the roadside. The endangered species, the Tapir, is also a tick carrier, as are the wild pigs I'd expect. This means that when in the thick jungle, it is good to avoid animal paths. If one does get ticks on her/his body, it is nothing to worry about, it merely takes some minutes to pick them all off. We have not heard of any illness brought on by ticks in Belize, though some people say their tick bites are itchy like ant bites.

Climate at a garden